Today's Focus

Current Goals:

1) $1,000/mo. to short-term savings and $400/mo to investments.
2) Weigh less than 180 pounds by 12/31/21.
3) Read more books.

Previous Goal: Eliminate Mortgage on Rental Property
Interest Rate is 5.125%!

January 1, 2019: $59,592
August 11, 2020: PAID!

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Thursday, March 4

My Frugal Miser - February 2021 Income

February was a solid month, with income exceeding expenses by a healthy margin.

Amazon was good.  I've been paying for a service that automatically picks up routes for me.  I used to be able to get the same amount of work without having to pay for it, but the use of bots has made that impossible.

The Airbnb was booked every day and higher rates than last year.  March is already almost fully booked.

I received rent for two of the three Birmingham rental properties.  I also received quarterly income from some of my Realty Mogul investments.

February Income: $10,784

$60 Mystery Shopping/ Merchandising
$0 Meeting Jobs
$79 Gig Apps (Rideshare, Food Deliveries, etc.)
$2,913 Amazon Deliveries
$2,710 Rental Income (Rental Expenses:  $420)
$4,153 Airbnb Income (Airbnb Expenses:  $406)
$26 Interest Income
$843 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $3,555

My investment accounts were mixed.  While Vereit was up 10%, my put options on AMC suffered more big losses.  I closed out my Carnival Cruise Lines position.

Tuesday, March 2

My Frugal Miser - February 2021 Expenses


In February I kept expenses relatively low.  After we move they will drop even more.
  • The household expense includes $1,423 for the mortgage.  We are moving at the end of March so this expense will be lower soon.
  • Spending on food was reasonable considering the higher expense of our low-carb diet.  We are still preparing nearly every meal at home, which saves on restaurant meals.
  • I bought a Groupon for front brake pads.  I paid $71 for the Groupon and received a $2.85 rebate from Rakuten.  My normal mechanic quoted $270 to replace the brakes.  
  • Health and Dental will continue to be much lower than last year since I switched to an ACA plan.  In February I filled two prescriptions.  The balance is for the monthly insurance premium.


We love adventures, which makes it exciting to talk about the "fun" category.  
  • I visited Las Vegas for three nights.  Travel is still really cheap.  My hotels were comped, I paid $42 for the flight, and food was inexpensive.  The only other expense was the car rental and gambling.  
  • I want to highlight the $42 flight:  at the end of last year I completed a status match with Frontier.  Since I have a SWA Companion Pass, I qualified for the highest-level with Frontier, which lets you choose any seat on the plane and luggage is complimentary.  This allowed me to choose the first row with extra legroom.  I also had the pleasure of checking out the brand new American Express Centurion Lounge on my layover in Denver, compliments of my AMEX Platinum card.  
  • I booked a May trip for Las Vegas.  Two roundtrip tickets were $159, but I had a $50 voucher which brought it down to $109.  I'm loving the Frontier status match since it means our upgraded seats and bags were included in that price.
  • Other fun in February included tickets to a drive-in concert we attended.

February Expenses:  $3,786

$402 Auto (service, gas, insurance, AAA, etc.)
$150 Bank Fees (annual fee on CSR card)
$15 Clothing/ Personal Care
$643 Fun (vacations, movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets)
$532 Food
$187 Health and Dental
$1,449 Household/Mortgage Payment/Home Repair
$0 Interest Expense
$0 Miscellaneous
$78 Taxes
$256 Utilities

I have streamlined this post for 2021 by not reporting business spending in 2021 (Airbnb, rental property, unreimbursed job expenses, etc.)  This blog is about my personal journey towards financial independence, and I wanted to simplify things and focus on the expenses I should be able to reduce or eliminate.

Tuesday, February 9

Keto Diet: 120 Days

I started the keto diet on October 7, 2020.  

Weight on 10/07/20:  236.6

Weight on 01/07/21:  211.6

Weight on 2/9/21:  206.8

Total Weight Loss:  29.8 pounds

The weight loss has slowed, but I lost about 5 pounds in the last month.  We could cut more out of our diet, but I am scared that it would discourage me.  As long as I keep losing weight at a steady pace I am happy.  I attribute success to cutting a few basic items from my diet:  no bread, rice or noodles.  No added sugar.  Sure, there are other foods we shy away from, but this is the Cliff's Notes version of our diet.  

I updated my goals for 2021 to include weight loss.  By the end of this year I will weigh 180 pounds or less.

Saturday, February 6

Selling My House to Zillow

 A few weeks ago we decided to move into one of my rental properties and sell our current home.  When I started researching how much my house was worth, I noticed on Zillow that they are purchasing homes in the Tampa Bay area.  

About a year ago I inquired with one of the companies that buys houses (maybe it was OfferPad, but I can't remember) and they offered $212,000 for our home.  I paid $215,000 for it in August, 2018 and, while the offer wasn't enough to convince me to move, it made me feel good that our home was sustaining its value.  I assumed that Zillow would lowball the offer like those "We Pay Cash for Houses" outfits.  This wasn't the case.

So far this has been a very easy process:

  1. On January 23rd, I answered some basic questions about the home on the Zillow website.  Things like square feet, number of bedrooms, and whether any updates had been made to the house.
  2. On January 26th, I received an email titled, "We've Calculated a Market Value for Your Home."  When I clicked through the email, I discovered my house, according to Zillow, was now worth $266,700.  This was justified by a list of other houses that had recently sold in my neighborhood, so it was easy for me to see that my offer was within the range of what houses are selling for.
  3. The next step was setting up an appointment for an inspector to evaluate the home.  I had the option to be present, but I chose to sign a waiver allowing the inspector to come while we weren't home.  
  4. In addition to the market value, Zillow provided a couple of line items detailing what they would deduct to come up with a net price.  This included 4.9% in Transaction Costs (comparable to the 5% commission I would have in a normal transaction), 0.1% Selling Costs (described as the fee to let me select a closing date in the future), and Prep and Repair Costs of $2,490.  There was a breakdown of the repair costs, which included replacing carpet and touching up paint, along with a couple of other minor repairs.  I think the repair costs were reasonable.
I have signed the contract and responded to the standard information requests, nothing out of the ordinary.  Since one advantage of selling to Zillow is being able to set your closing date, I decided on March 31st.  Our tenant is due to move out at the end of February, giving us a month to get the rental property cleaned up and to move.

My personal opinion is that pretty much all asset prices are irrationally exuberant right now.  Stocks are in a bubble, and real estate is pricey, though not as crazy as stocks.  I can't time the market, but I was already looking at moving, and now seems like a great time to sell a home.